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Can’t Shuffle Playlist By Grouping

Discussion in 'General iTunes Usage' started by John Oldham, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. John Oldham

    John Oldham New Member

    I’m trying to use "Shuffle By Grouping" for the first time and I can’t make it work at all.

    I want to shuffle a playlist so that all songs in the playlist with the same title play together, even from different artists and albums. For instance I want to hear the song "Something" by The Beatles, and Peggy Lee’s cover of that song together. Then I want to randomly jump to another Grouping of songs with the same title, say, St. Louis Blues, and play all of them, and so on. Sort of like Album shuffling if each Album had the same song by different Artists.

    What I tried:

    1 - made a standard playlist called "Originals/Covers".

    2 - dragged all the songs that I have versions of by different Artists into "Originals/Covers".

    3 - sorted the playlist by Name so all the same Titles are together.

    4 - arranged the columns so that the Name and Groupings columns are next to each other.

    5 - Made sure all the Grouping fields were empty.

    6 - copied the Name Field over to Groupings for each song using one of Doug’s Applescripts.

    7 - verified that all the Grouping text was the same for each grouping.

    What this looks like:


    Love For Sale---------------Love For Sale------------------Adderley, Cannonball

    Love For Sale---------------Love For Sale------------------Arthur Lyman Group

    Love For Sale---------------Love For Sale------------------Dorsey, Jimmy

    Love For Sale---------------Love For Sale------------------London, Julie

    Love Potion #9-------------Love Potion Number Nine---The Coasters

    Love Potion Number 9----Love Potion Number Nine---The Clovers

    8 - set Shuffle to "ON" and "By Grouping" via the Control Menu.

    9 - clicked the "crossed arrows" Shuffle button.

    What happens:

    A random song plays, but instead of playing the rest of the songs in that grouping iTunes selects another random song. Up Next looks like the songs are shuffled by Song, not Grouping.

    I’m using 12.3.2 on 10.11.3. So what is wrong here? Thanks in advance.
  2. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    I just did exactly what you did, and it's working for me. I created a smart playlist where Grouping Is Not <blank>, and all the tracks I have with groupings were added. Set the Shuffle to Grouping, then clicked the shuffle button at the top of the playlist. Up Next shows things by grouping.

    Also, if I double-click any song in the playlist (after clearing up next), it also shows groupings together in Up Next.
  3. John Oldham

    John Oldham New Member

    Actually, what you did was slightly different but slicker. You created a Smart Playlist which automatically adds the tracks to the Playlist. I tried that with mixed results:

    01 - created a Smart Playlist with a: Grouping is not <blank> and b: Genre does not contain Classical (I use Groupings in Classical for a different purpose and I just want this playlist for non Classical only). I got the exact same failure as before.

    02 - for a test I deleted condition b: which then added all of my Classical to the playlist. Now when I shuffle By Grouping only the Classical plays by Grouping properly. The non Classical does not (the Kiri te Kanawa is a one song "album"):

    Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 8.51.37 AM.JPG

    No solution but at least it's a clue. I have to fix breakfast (U.S. west coast) first then I'll play some more with this. Thanks for your response.
  4. John Oldham

    John Oldham New Member

    Actually, the problem is that my iTunes is shuffling by Album when I ask it to shuffle by Grouping. It works for you (kirkmc) so it can work for me if I figure out what's different with my iTunes. Either there is an issue with my iTunes app or I am somehow setting this up wrong. Will post if I can figure this out.
  5. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, it seems pretty straightforward; it should work if we both do the same thing. You might want to try and delete the iTunes preference file: ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iTunes.plist. Try moving it to the desktop, and then restarting your computer. See if that fixes it. It will reset some prefs to defaults, however, so you'll want to check all the prefs afterwards.
  6. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    It's also possible that it's assuming that a grouping only counts if it's on the same album. The only groupings I have are for classical works, so try changing some of the album names of your songs to see if that makes it work. If so, that means it won't work the way you want it to (unless you want to permanently change the album names).
  7. John Oldham

    John Oldham New Member

    I tried deleting the iTunes prefs file previously but did not restart the Mac per your second note. Tried that. No help.

    Since I was a "dot-dot" version behind in both iTunes and Mac OS I backed up and updated both. Updates went fine but still no joy for this issue.

    Logical, since that could explain why it worked for you but not for me. "Grouping just can't do that" would be a 3rd option to "I set it up wrong" and "iTunes is messed up under the hood". Unfortunately, I don't use the Grouping tag in Classical for splitting, say, a CD of 6 Vivaldi Concertos into individual works. I use it for instrument type (Organ, Piano, Piano Solo, String Quartet, etc) which feed into Smart Playlists set up for each Grouping. I instead would split that Vivaldi CD into six separate "albums", one for each work. So for me that original CD "Album" no longer exists. I did try shuffling my whole Classical Library By Grouping to see if it would play, say, all of the Organ works, then Piano Solo, etc, but nope. Same issue.

    I don't want to change Album Names permanently for this but I will do some limited testing to at least confirm "Grouping just can't do that" is the issue. Will post results.

    My kludgy way to do this would be to duplicate every "Cover"song and make separate "Compilation" albums for each song, with say, the album "The Times They Are A-Changin'" having songs by Dylan, The Byrds, etc. I don't mind doing the work. I've torn down and rebuilt my Library so many times I'm like a Marine field stripping his rifle. But my "Covers" playlist is already over 5GB and will only grow. Don't know if it's worth it but if "Grouping just can't do that" is the outcome here I may not have a choice.
  8. John Oldham

    John Oldham New Member

    Unfortunately for me it's "Grouping just can't do that". I imported 3 Classical CDs, 12 individual works between them, and temporarily set them up the "Standard" (sigh) way, with the same name for the whole CD and the Grouping field set for each work. I put them all in a playlist and Shuffle By Grouping worked. So if anyone is going to try what I tried with pop music: don't.

    So: Grouping really only works with Classical music as very few popular albums have a need for this kind of splitting. Grouping is not an independent field but hangs off of the Album field when shuffling. At least Grouping can be used any way you want to build Smart Playlists.

    My Covers Playlist is still semi useful. I can sort it by Grouping then grab some grouped chunks of songs and throw them into Up Next. It's not Shuffle Play but it sorta does what I want. Now off to dream about a nifty Applescript that would automate that!
  9. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, Grouping is not used for, say, a sub-genre; it's used to delimitate a work. You can see that if you buy classical music from the iTunes Store. Much classical music (though not all) uses the Grouping tag, and it defines a work on a multi-work album (or set). So it seems from this experimentation that a grouping has to be a sub-tag on on album, not a tag that can span multiple albums, as you use it. I see your point, however; it would be interesting for it to work your way.
  10. Bob Peirce

    Bob Peirce New Member

    I'm a bit late to the party but I have the same problem and I'm sort of glad others do as well. It suggests it probably isn't me doing something wrong. I shuffle play in a smart playlist EVERY tune that hasn't been played yet and I use Groupings to group classical works in the hope they will play as a group. I am using iTunes 12 and I have Shuffle ON and By Groupings checked, but it doesn't work. I tried checking By Album and that does seem to work, so it appears I am doing the right thing but it just isn't working. I would dearly love to see a solution.
  11. Bob Peirce

    Bob Peirce New Member

    I forgot to mention, although it may be obvious, that the Groupings field is only filled in for pieces I want to group. The field is empty for single tunes.
  12. Bob Peirce

    Bob Peirce New Member

    Just discovered that Grouping seems to work on recently added albums (how recent?) but not on older albums. A possible solution is to rebuild the database but I can't figure out how. I'm pretty sure you used to be able to do that from the XML file but I can't find that option in Is there another way to do it?
  13. Bob Peirce

    Bob Peirce New Member

    The latest release,, seems to have solved the problem. I tested it with the oldest groupings I could find and they worked.

    My smart playlist only selects tunes that have not been played yet and I have some groupings where individual parts have already been played. Groupings still work. It will pick the earliest part of the piece and then jump to the next part even if there are intervening parts.

    I suppose it is possible this used to work and some other bug fix took it out. Unfortunately, I don't know when it worked or when it stopped.

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